According to Resolve, "Secondary infertility is defined as the inability to become pregnant, or to carry a pregnancy to term, following the birth of one or more biological children." And statistically secondary infertility is more common than primary infertility.
Women with secondary infertility have to cope with all the issues of infertility and experience the same levels of anxiety and depression as other infertile women as well as extra challenges unique to their situation:
- They are looked upon as ingrates by women still struggling to have a child who think they should just be grateful for the child they have. But wanting another child is about increasing the love in the world, rather than being greedy or ungrateful.
- Whether the first child was conceived naturally or with assisted reproductive techniques, friends and family often don't understand why, if they got pregnant before, they can't get pregnant again. And often times there isn't a simple, obvious answer - which can be a problem in itself.
- For women who already have a child, it's hard to escape the children's parties, get-togethers, mum and toddler groups and the consequent pregnancy announcements that are a remind of what they want more than anything.
- Most couples want their children spaced so as to be able to play together - usually 2-4 years apart. The bigger the space between babies gets, the more pressure the mother with secondary infertility can feel: so that's a double whammy on the time running out front - getting older and a bigger, less ideal, gap between babies.
- For women with secondary infertility who are having investigations or treatments, the logistics of finding childcare to fit in with last minute hospital appointments can be difficult and taking a young child to the IVF clinic - well you can imagine!
- And once the NHS treatments have run out, there's the quandary of whether to spend money on your existing child or on trying for a another child. A sibling or university costs?
- Women with secondary infertility often feel they're letting their child down by not being able to conceive a sibling: someone for their child to bond with, play with, share with. And that pressure can also come from their child who desperately wants to be like their friends and have a brother or sister.
So next time you see a family of 3 (or even 4 or 5), don't assume it's a choice - sometimes trying for that next child isn't as easy in reality as it might appear.
If you're experiencing primary or secondary infertility or know anyone who is, the FERTILITY SUPPORT GROUP Midlothian runs on the third Monday of every month.
Also, you might want to check out Fertility Reflexology.